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Thread: Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

  1. #1
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    Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

    באנגלית המספר של שם העצם השייך תמיד מבוסס על המספר הכולל של חפצים שייכים. לכן "our bodies" או "our lives".
    לעומת זאת בעברית אומרים בדרך כלל "הגוף שלנו" במקום "הגופים שלנו", אז נראה לי כי המספר הוא מבוסס על כמה שיש לכל אדם; לכל אחד מאיתנו יש רק גוף אחד. האם זה תמיד נכון, או האם השפה העברית מושפעת יותר מאנגלית לאחרונה?

    In English the number of a possessed noun is always based on the total number of objects possessed. Hence "our bodies" or "our lives".
    In contrast, in Hebrew they usually say "haguf shelanu" instead of "hagufim shelanu", so it seems to me that the number is based on how much each individual has (each one of us only has one body). Is this always correct (normative usage) or has Hebrew been more influenced by English lately?
    Last edited by trigel; 24th November 2012 at 5:39 AM. Reason: added English translation

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    Re: Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel View Post
    בעברית אומרים בדרך כלל "הגוף שלנו" במקום "הגופים שלנו", אז נראה לי כי המספר הוא מבוסס על כמה שיש לכל אדם; לכל אחד מאיתנו יש רק גוף אחד?
    הגוף שלנו means "body of the sort that we, human beings, have" rather than simply "my body" or "our bodies". That is, it refers to the essence rather than a unit. Usually followed by some explanation of the body behavior, structure and alike.

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    Re: Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

    Quote Originally Posted by origumi View Post
    הגוף שלנו means "body of the sort that we, human beings, have" rather than simply "my body" or "our bodies". That is, it refers to the essence rather than a unit. Usually followed by some explanation of the body behavior, structure and alike.
    Origumi- I agree with the way you translate or understand expressions like הגוף שלנו or המשפחה שלנו or הבית שלנו etc.,
    but still- do English speakers tend to talk about 'our bodies' or 'our families' or 'our homes'?

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    Re: Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

    Quote Originally Posted by GeriReshef View Post
    but still- do English speakers tend to talk about 'our bodies' or 'our families' or 'our homes'?
    This is a question about English.

    In regard to Hebrew - using a number based on how much each individual has does not seem to happen in regular plurals, only in specific cases like the one described above. I don't think that using plural noun with plural possession has anything to do with influence from English or any other modern foreign language. That's how Hebrew works.

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    Re: Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel
    In English the number of a possessed noun is always based on the total number of objects possessed.
    Busted. Both "We use 10% of our brains" and "we use 10% of our brain" are grammatical.


    Quote Originally Posted by origumi
    number based on how much each individual has does not seem to happen in regular plurals, only in specific cases like the one described above.

    Then "habait/hamishpaxa shelanu" would always refer to the one that we all share, like in English. If the noun refers to an abstraction that you speak of, is it mandatory in Hebrew that you say "we use 10% of our brain"? What about specific situations/injunctions like "watch your bodies"?
    Last edited by trigel; 24th November 2012 at 3:52 PM.

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    Re: Number of possessed noun in Hebrew

    Quote Originally Posted by trigel View Post
    What about specific situations/injunctions like "watch your bodies"?
    You cannot induce a rule from one example. The plural of גוף is hardly used for the human body, regardless of possession. Neither גופים nor גופות sounds natural in most circumstances.
    Take other examples such as שמרו על בתיכם, הצילו את נפשותיכם etc. - they are good in plural although the singular can also be used. When singular, it may refer indeed to the objective viewpoint of the listener (who has one house and one soul). I don't know if either the singular or plural is more common for this pattern in current Hebrew compared to older Hebrew. Such claim would need some evidence.

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